Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Shana Elson, CEO of Top This Chocolate, located in Ventura, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Top This Chocolate is the world's first customizable-on-the-spot chocolate store. Customers can see premium milk, white or dark liquid chocolate poured out, topped with their choice of nuts, dried fruit, candy, cookies, and salty snacks, and flash-dried right before their eyes. The liquid chocolate is in full view pouring from chocolate machines. Customers can also put a name on a bar in chocolate letters. Each custom creation is ready in less than EIGHT minutes. The first store is now three years old, but I am working toward franchising.

Tell us about yourself

I was a lawyer who developed a love for making desserts. I returned to school for a business degree, and the concept started as a class project in Entrepreneurship 101. It was when I won the $25,000 first-place prize in the Women's New Venture Pitch Competition at USC Marshall School of Business that I decided to go for it. It is so unique that I am motivated every day by the customers who walk in and marvel that they've never heard of anything like this before. Plus, I'm selling happiness through chocolate.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Getting it from idea to reality.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Losing work/life balance.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Ask 25 strangers in your industry what they think of your business idea.
  2. Be obsessed with making it happen.
  3. Persevere.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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